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Juan Palacios: ‘We are not stealing these jobs’

DACA status: Expires August 2019. “It means I have two years to figure it out, to talk to lawmakers and as many people as I can,” Palacios said.

Backstory: Palacios arrived in West Michigan at age 12, crossing the Mexican border with his mother, shortly after his 4-year-old brother, Juan Paulos, crossed in a different car.

Achievements: A Grand Rapids Creston High School grad, Palacios is proud to have risen from line worker to quality control inspector at a medical device manufacturer. “We are not stealing these jobs,” he said. “We are getting these jobs based on our performance. My company noticed that I have a passion for work. There were seven people to apply for that job with many more years of experience than me and I was given it ‒ not because I am DACA, but because I earned that job.”

Ambitions: Palacios said he’s putting $6,000 aside to become a certified electrician in a six-month program offered by Grand Rapids Community College. “They hook you up with a job,” he said. “My goal is to eventually buy a house.”

Fears:  Trump’s comments that “Dreamers” have little to fear have not allayed his concern. “I already knew what his view was on immigration. I was already in some ways preparing for the day he was going to cancel the program,” he said. Still, he said he was hopeful after seeing non-immigrants marching for DACA at a Grand Rapids’ rally this month. “I saw people who don’t have anything at stake but felt it was important to support the cause. It’s about the American dream.

Plan if DACA expires: He is unsure what he would do in Mexico. “I don’t know what one peso would buy me there. From what I hear, there is a lot of kidnapping, especially those with people back in the United States. It’s an even higher risk to go back.”

Reaction to possible deal: “I do feel more positive right now, with Trump working with the Democrats. But we have to keep pushing on this. With Trump, I think it’s either the flavor of the week or somebody at the moment who influences him. A month from now I don’t know who he’s going to be talking to.”

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